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In a list of people published in a bulletin, which is correct?

  • We continue in prayer for: Amy B.(cancer), T. Jones(nephew of Tim), Lillie (on the death of her brother), Sally(Nursing Home),
  • We continue in prayer for: Amy B.,cancer; T. Jones,nephew of Tim; Lillie, on the death of her brother;Sally,Nursing Home;
  • We continue in prayer for: Amy B.-cancer, T. Jones-nephew of Tim, Lillie- on the death of her brother,Sally-Nursing Home;
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Arguably none of them, Chris, if to be consistent in one's use of spacing between words. But as touches what you expressly have in mind here there's not bound to exist any rule which exludes any of the three constructions. Properly spaced I would personally prefer the second example because the parenthetic one (as well as the hyphenated one) strikes me as somehow reductive, too impersonal and nearly even cold ...all considering the gravity of what's being listed. – Tom Raywood Jan 24 '12 at 17:44

The very definition of a parenthetical phrase is one that"constitutes a digression or a clarification" -- which the conditions that accompany each name in your examples clearly are.

So parentheses (offset by a space if your bulletin permits) are the most clear:

We continue in prayer for: Amy B. (cancer), T. Jones (nephew of Tim), Lillie (on the death of her brother), Sally (nursing home)

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The point of the list is that it is a list of people. Statements like "cancer" are an explanation of why the person is on the list, which is a side note from the fact that they are on the list. Therefore parentheses are appropriate. As a practical matter, parentheses more clearly set off the reasons from the names in a graphical sense. (Though I am curious about the "nephew of Tim". Is that something that makes this person need prayer in the same way that having cancer or being bereaved call for prayer? How bad an uncle is Tim?) – Jay Jan 24 '12 at 18:55
@Jay It normally means that they are related to someone in the congregation, but aren't of the congregation (Tim is a member, but his nephew T. Jones apparently is not -- but needs prayer for some unspecified reason) – Gnawme Jan 24 '12 at 19:07

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